Jobless Youth Take Action
The unemployment rate for Americans aged 20-24 is 12.6% (20.2% for African Americans in this age cohort) compared to 8.1% for all would-be workers. Fewer jobs, lower starting pay, and crushing student debt are spurring U.S. youth to take action to resurrect the “land of opportunity” many had been raised to take for granted is their birthright.
(Here’s a link to an interesting table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that presents labor force data by age, gender, and race: BLS April 2012 Labor Force Statistics.)
Organizing To Help Young People Find and Create Jobs
More organized and perhaps less ragtag relatives of the Occupy movement, the Campaign for Young America (CYA) and Fix Young America (FYA) initiatives aim to help secure the American dream—or at least head off a nightmare—for young people.
With a tagline reminiscent of the 60’s U.S. civil rights movement—“Ready to Lift Up the Voices of Our Generation”—CYA is the force behind an 8-week, 35-city National Youth Bus Tour scheduled to climax with two days in Washington, D.C. beginning today, May 7. The Campaign is a product of Young Invincibles, formed in 2009 “out of the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform” (from its website). The group’s mission has broadened to “representing the interests of 18 to 34 year-olds and making sure that our perspective is heard wherever decisions about our collective future are being made.”
CYA has produced a Debt Toolkit for young people. You can download it here (or from the CYA website):
The Young Entrepreneur Council sponsors Fix Young America. From its website:
“The YEC, an invite-only nonprofit membership organization, promotes entrepreneurship as a means to overcome youth unemployment and underemployment. Our mission is to spark an entrepreneurial revolution in America—and help rebuild the economy in the process. Today, with 1 out of 2 new college graduates unemployed or underemployed, young Americans must find a new way forward. To that end, the YEC seeks to put the tools and resources aspiring young entrepreneurs need directly in their hands, so they are empowered to create thousands of new businesses (and jobs).”
Here’s a short video from the YEC’s founder Scott Gerber:
This Is About Home Economics, Not Politics
Both organizations profess non-partisanship. Quoted in the New York Times, Mr. Gerber says. “We didn’t want to be held hostage by political rhetoric and agendas.” Young Invincibles co-founder Aaron Smith echoes this sentiment: “Both Democrats and Republicans need to listen and respond to the concerns of our generation.”
But Will More Young People Vote?
By way of a brief commentary, I’d add this: I hope each organization will focus their energy on get-out-the-vote campaigns this fall. Unless young people vote, I suspect Democrats and Republicans will find little reason to listen and respond to the generation’s concerns. Even in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election—dominated by the young, some would say hip, Barack Obama—only 48.5% of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, compared to about 67.4% for those in the age 45-54 bracket and 72.4% of Americans 65-74 years old.
What Do You Think?
Are you encouraged about America’s future because of these youth-oriented organizations? Do you expect more of today’s young people—compared to say ten or twenty years ago—will have to create their own job instead of find a job? If ‘create a job,’ would that be a good or bad thing for the U.S.?